Mathematics for first-year success


Successful completion of tertiary courses within Health Sciences and Biomedical Sciences relies on competency in mathematics. Competency, and, confidence with mathematics, is innately connected. Most students enter University courses by obtaining the requisite Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) score for their chosen course. However, increasingly, students also enter via “alternative entry pathways”. Such students could be at a disadvantage compared to those who have studied mathematics throughout high school. To test this idea we implemented a diagnostic assessment pilot study for literacy (n = 269) of midyear entry students across six Schools and a low cognitive mathematics test on a smaller cohort of students (n = 31) who had completed the literacy test and were enrolled in courses within the School of Health Sciences on the University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle campus. The data shows that in contrast to expectations the “alternative entry pathway” students that had completed the bridging course scored better in the reading test compared to ATAR or Cert IV graduates. In addition, Cert IV and TEP graduates performed comparably in the mathematics test compared to ATAR students but the overall performance of all student groups in the mathematics test was well below expectation. As universities move towards Post Entrance Literacy Assessments (PELA), the need for parallel Post Entrance Numeracy Assessments (PENA) warrants further research, based on the results of this study.


Peer-reviewed, Published in Full


This Conference Paper may be accessed from the Conference website here

The Authors:

Associate Professor Keith McNaught

Associate Professor Gerard Hoyne